Do you like the idea of crawling through a mine in search of treasure?
If you answered yes, then Dwarven Dig is a game you will want to check out.
Dwarven Dig is for two-to-six players, and is best described as an exploration game, in a fantasy genre.
The box top description gives a rather concise vision of the flavour of Dwarven Dig stating it “is the fast-paced, hard-hitting, cave-smashing game of dwarves on the hunt for treasure. With the wise, grit-generating elder, the savvy engineer, the hell-raising miner and the stout warrior, can you lead your team safely through the perils of the mountain to retrieve the treasure before your opponents do the same? Play defensively or go on the attack to directly thwart the other teams, and never play the same game twice due to the game board's tile construction system. Face the mountain if you dare!”
The game was created by Anthony J. Gallela and Japji Khalsa, and was first released in 2003. The most recent edition is from Bucephalus Games.
To start, a word about the components; they are very good.
The board is modular, coming on good-sized hexagonal pieces which can be configured in various patterns to keep game-play fresh. This is an element a lot of games could utilize to good effect.
The game comes with little plastic dwarves in a number of colours as the game pieces. For a game of this style the miniatures have surprising details. There are four separate poses; warrior, miner, elder and engineer.
Glass beads as the booty is a nice touch.
And, the player reference cards are on thick cardboard, so they’ll take some handling.
There is a considerable set up phase, laying out the board, and getting ready to play. From there the game has a bit of a learning curve too. The instructions are quite extensive for a game that is supposed to play in about 45-minutes. Don’t expect that to happen, at least as you learn this one.
The game is broken in phases; dig, battle, willpower and grit, so there is a level of complexity to how the game unfolds too.
The game has three win conditions, which is generally a positive.
A player that can get their party to a cave entrance in possession of a treasure marker wins. You can also be the last player with dwarves still alive. In a case where dwarves die simultaneously to end a game, the player with the most grit tokens wins.
You might see a pattern in the win conditions. The likelihood of failure ending in dwarven death is pretty high here. Be prepared to fail. It’s a part of most games, but the chances are higher here.
Overall, the game has a solid dungeon crawl feel to it. The game is challenging, but anyone seems to have a fair shot at winning at any time.
Not one for casual gamers, but those dedicated to learning this one should find in an enjoyable gaming experience.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Nov.18, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada